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SoHo Karen’s legal troubles have intensified.
According to ABC News, 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto has been charged with federal hate crimes in connection to a 2020 attack on a Black teen. The incident, which was captured on camera, took place on Dec. 26 in the lobby of NYC’s Arlo Hotel, where she falsely accused a 14-year-old boy of stealing her phone.
The child’s father, famed jazz musician Keyon Harrold, posted footage of the altercation on social media, showing a masked Ponsetto demanding hotel staff to get her iPhone back from the teen. Surveillance footage also captured Ponsetto tackling the boy to the ground, before an Uber driver returned the misplaced device to the hotel.
“She scratched me; she Tackled and grabbed him. He is a child!” Harrold captioned the Instagram video. “Now watch it again. This lady is not even a guest at the hotel. She checked out of the hotel on the 23rd of December; today is the 26th. Now watch as the manager advocates for the lady who is not even a hotel guest, insisting and attempting to use his managerial authority to force my son to show his phone to this random lady. He actually empowered her!!! He didn’t even consider the fact we were actually the guests! Now think about the trauma that my son now has to carry, only coming downstairs to have box day brunch with his dad.”
Ponsetto was arrested in California on Jan. 8 and charged with two counts of attempted assault, attempted robbery grand larceny, and endangering the welfare of a child. Fast-forward to Wednesday, when a grand jury indicted her on two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree as a hate crime, aggravated harassment in the second degree, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Her attorney, Paul D’Emilia, called the hate crime charges “shameful.”
“The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute,” the lawyer told ABC News. “In sum, they are absurd and a perversion of our legal system.”
Ponsetto, who appeared in court remotely, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
In the weeks following the incident, Ponsetto made several attempts to justify her actions and consistently dismissed allegations of racism. During a viral interview with Gayle King, Ponsetto lashed out at the morning show host and claimed she could not be racist because she was a “woman of color.”
“I had noticed my phone had been missing. So I just approached the hotel manager, asked him if he could kindly just check the footage,” Ponsetto recalled to King. “In my opinion, I was, like, ‘OK, any person walking down could possibly be the person that might’ve had my phone.’ And I, I really didn’t, I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever. I’m a woman. I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of color. I’m Italian, Greek, Puerto Rican.”
Ponsetto’s next court hearing is set for October. The Harrold family also filed a civil lawsuit against Ponsetto and the hotel back in May.